Family's fight for answers


David Lawson

A FAMILY'S long fight to get answers to their daughter's sudden death should end this week.

Wednesday marks the start of a two-day inquest into the death of Charlotte Hartey, the Bronygarth teenager wrongly diagnosed with swine flu.
Charlotte's father Karl Hartey, managing director of Applewood Associates, says he will be representing the family himself at the Shrewsbury inquest, explaining: "I have lived the nightmare for 15 months, spoken to every doctor and know the files better than anyone, so as long as I can keep it together, I will ask the questions I know need answering."

Charlotte died on July 31 last year as a result of complications, after her tonsillitis was diagnosed as swine flu. The 16-year-old was later admitted to the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital where she died.

The family challenged an original post mortem and say a petition supported by thousands of local residents and politicians gave them leverage to challenge the Primary Care Trust's initial report. Their case was then put before the Department of Health whose own independent report identified a number of issues of concern, ultimately calling for the inquest the family had been fighting for.

Of the many questions to be answered at the inquest, the family say the most important for them is why, having been assessed as a level five intensive care patient, their daughter was placed on a level one ward.

Looking ahead to the end of the inquest, Karl said: "I hope by this time next week it will be job done and we will not need to go back to it. Only then can we mourn properly and concentrate on the positive work being done in her memory."

The charitable foundation set up in Charlotte's memory has already raised more than £30,000 and Karl describes its work as 'a breath of fresh air':
"Seeing the money people have raised make a difference to local groups, many of which are facing funding cuts, has meant such a lot, and some of these have then started fundraising for the foundation themselves to help others."

Last month family and friends marked Charlotte's 18th birthday with the installation of a stained glass window at Weston Rhyn Parish Church, before releasing 18 Chinese lanterns into the sky.

"Charlotte would be over the moon to see the work people are now doing in her name," said Karl. "She always joked she would be the face of Applewoods and there would be a website. Now there is, and it's a place where people are coming together to do so much good."

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